Beyond the Classroom
The Trinity Episcopal School education is best characterized by a love of learning both inside the classroom and out. The classroom can be a wonderful and nurturing place, but we want to prepare students for the world well beyond Trinity.
The Natural Classroom is next to Trinity's outdoor chapel and features an outdoor garden, compost center, rainwater collection system, shaded outdoor classroom and related science equipment. Students have used the garden to grow produce — including spinach and other greens, peppers, tomatoes, cucumbers, zucchini, squash and corn — which are then eaten by faculty and students in our dining hall. Using the compost center, students have recycled thousands of pounds of food waste to fertilize native meadows and garden beds.
Technology can empower students and educators, but also can distance children from traditional land-based learning and experiences. Students today have limited opportunity to explore the natural environment and experience all it has to offer. Outdoor classrooms promote many types of scientific exploration and observations of real-world phenomena, which help engage the scientific mind. The garden reinforces and brings to life the lessons learned in the seventh-grade life science course — concepts like pollination, genetic variation and photosynthesis.
Hiking Trails & Habitat Conservation
In 2012, we began a restoration project to sustain native species and strengthen biodiversity. Led by Lower School science teacher Bill Earley, students helped clear invasive brush, plant seeds, and create ponds to strengthen biodiversity. Wildlife sightings have increased in recent years and include armadillos, deer, rabbits, cats, ringtails, foxes, bobcats, coyotes and more. You can read a report on the state of our wildlife preserve:
Beyond the Classroom with Bill Earley, Part I
Meet Mr. Earley, who teaches Lower School science and social studies at Trinity. He leads our efforts in wildlife conservation efforts and habitat preservation.
Beyond the Classroom with Bill Earley, Part II
Mr. Earley tours Trinity's community garden and compost center, which brings to life the lessons learned in the seventh-grade life science course — concepts like pollination, genetic variation and photosynthesis.
Beyond the Classroom with Bill Earley, Part III
Mr. Earley discusses land preservation efforts along Trinity's nature trails. Projects like maintaining trails, dredging a water drainage channel, and building bridges increase students' awareness and appreciation of their natural environment and instill a higher level of work ethic and stewardship.
Beyond the Classroom with Bill Earley, Part IV
Mr. Earley discusses wildlife habitat restoration efforts on Trinity's campus. Students have cleared invasive brush, planted seeds, and created ponds to strengthen biodiversity. Wildlife sightings have increased in recent years and include armadillos, deer, rabbits, cats, ringtails, foxes, bobcats, coyotes and more.
Conservation in the Curriculum
On our tours, you'll see plenty of examples of active, engaged learning taking place in our classrooms, but we believe learning shouldn't be confined to a classroom. Our curriculum includes outdoor opportunities like gardening and habitat restoration right here on our 21-acre campus.
“We look to restore native spaces to create a healthy and diverse wildlife community,” said Bill Earley, who teaches science and social studies at Trinity. “We're addressing our community space and working to create an environment where wildlife can coexist with us.”
This trail restoration project is designed to increase students' awareness and appreciation of their natural environment and to instill a higher level of work ethic and stewardship. Students discuss urban sprawl and development, habitat fragmentation and loss of natural resources. They also analyze population data to determine if the project has had a positive effect, both for individual species and the wildlife community as a whole. Then students use their knowledge to educate others by building presentations and leading parents on tours.
“In social studies, students develop ways of thinking drawn from many academic disciplines,” Mr. Earley said. “They learn how to analyze their own and others’ opinions and ideas on important issues and hopefully become motivated to participate in their communities as active and informed citizens.”
Multi-Day Excursions for Grades 4–8
We love our beautiful campus, but there’s a big, wide world to explore! We’re always looking for learning opportunities outside the classroom, big and small. Sure, our 21-acre campus has lots of great places to explore, and periodically, students enjoy day trips to places in and around Austin. But beginning in fourth grade, we give students more chances to really spread their wings with our annual class trips. (We had to rethink class trips during the COVID pandemic, but we hope to get them back to normal soon!) These excursions challenge students to discover new environments, new people and themselves. Each adventure is another way to nurture our kids academically, physically, emotionally and spiritually.
Camp Allen, Texas
Camp Allen is an 860-acre retreat in the piney woods of East Texas. The two-day outing is an introduction to class trips, and it gives fourth graders a chance to discover an ecosystem different from Austin. Students learn about forest and pond ecology and enjoy team-building activities — and s’mores, of course!
Mo-Ranch is a Christian conference center, summer camp and spiritual retreat nestled in the Texas Hill Country. During the three-day trip, fifth graders enjoy outdoor activities that promote teamwork, leadership and confidence.
Camp Cho-Yeh, Texas
Established in 1947, Camp Cho-Yeh is a Christian camp and retreat in Livingston, Texas, about an hour north of Houston. The name comes from the local Alabama-Coushatta Indian language and means “land of tall pines.” Sixth graders sight-see and participate in community service in Houston for a day and night, and then head to camp Cho-Yeh for the rest of their four-day class trip.
Our nation’s capital is a great place to learn about American history, but it’s also an opportunity to witness the gears of government in motion. Each stop on the itinerary enables students to learn and appreciate the people, places and events that shaped our country and continue to affect our everyday lives.
Over five days, students immerse themselves in “pura vida.” Literally translated as “pure life,” this simple expression epitomizes the culture of optimism for which Costa Rica is famous. We explore the island’s highly lauded flora and fauna, unique geological landscape, and the warmth and kindness of the Tico people.